It’s Not too Early to Think about the Holidays: Six Tips for Winning Holiday Ads

By Steve Olenski, SVP Engagement, System1

It’s holiday planning time, with upwards of 25% of revenues on the line for retail brands in the fourth quarter. What creative treatments will ring registers amidst the crowd of holiday creative? And what will create long-term brand impact?

Marketers can skip some guesswork by tracking holiday ads that have scored well in recent years. When we interviewed consumers about holiday ads last season, we found some retail ads around the world scored exceptionally high on short- and long-term impact with creative techniques other marketers can copy. 

End happy. People feel more emotionally engaged when a commercial ends on a happy note. Take viewers on an emotional journey, but make sure you end with elation, hope and/or tenderness. For example, London airport Heathrow won hearts with a long spot that ended on children surprising their mother as she arrived home.  

Create community. As the pandemic ebbs, people are responding to togetherness more than conspicuous consumption. So, bring memorable moments to the forefront. Ads that showcase friends and families spending quality time with one another, and neighbors lending a helping hand, will score much higher. 

Unwrap nostalgia. Positive emotions spike when people see familiar scenes, from memories to holiday traditions associated with them. Introduce familiar, popular characters, songs, and references from years past. 

Get fluent. A fluent device is a recurring character or scenario that is used as the primary vehicle for drama and entertainment across multiple ads. M&Ms masters this, using consistent characterizations in product animation. In researching reactions to more than 10,000 ads over the past few years, we’ve seen that campaigns with fluent devices are 37% more likely to increase market share and 30% more likely to increase profits.  

Make magic. Holiday ads are one place where blurring the lines between fantasy and reality fit right in. Use the 30 or 60 seconds to suspend belief.   

Play hits. Discernible, familiar melodies and lyrics trigger the right brain, where imagination reigns. Using hit songs works, as does repeating music people like. Coca-Cola does the latter in Europe, reprising its “Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming)” tune in a classic spot every year. 

While great advertising will never be a color-by-numbers exercise, it pays to know what techniques are landing other marketers in the black. 

By Steve Olenski, SVP Engagement, System1

You must be logged in to post a comment Login